Movie Review: Sully

Simply riveting.

From start to finish, I sat spellbound, eyes glued to the screen, while Tom Hanks delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Captain (Sully) Sullenberger.

A true American hero loved and admired by all, Sully faces unexpected turbulence when an internal investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board threatens to undermine his judgment during the critical 208 seconds after the bird attack and his 40-year-old career.

Hanks expertly captures the composure Sully demonstrated throughout the water landing and the PTSD that followed directly afterward. We see a man haunted by “What if” disaster dreams at night and, during the day, awkward media interactions and frustrating encounters with members of the investigating committee, who are determined to prove that Sully could have saved 155 people without risking a water landing and subsequently damaging the aircraft.

Aaron Eckhart adds humor and dry wit as First Officer Jeffrey Skiles. I would have liked to have seen more of Laura Linney (Sully’s wife). The telephone conversations were short, often abrupt, and didn’t reveal the depth of their relationship.

At 96 minutes, this film could be dismissed as a short interlude, but nothing is farther from the truth. Shot entirely in IMAX, each minute of high-resolution format provides the necessary sense of scale needed to depict the plane, the city, the river, and the ferries. Kudos to Clint Eastwood who continues to inspire and entertain us with his directorial savoir-faire.

A must-see film!


Movie Review: The Light Between Oceans

Having read the novel, I thought I’d be prepared for the the cruel destiny that awaited Isabel and Tom Sherbourne, magnificently portrayed by Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender. Instead, I found myself blinking back tears for most of the 133 minutes.

From the start, I felt for the decorated soldier who desperately wanted to escape memories of the Great War and isolate himself as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. But he is not alone for too long. Beautiful and vivacious Isabel, who is recovering from the loss of two brothers, claims Tom’s heart and proposes marriage after a short courtship.

Their love is palpable but soon tested by two miscarriages and Isabel’s lingering grief. And then a miracle (or not) occurs: a rowing boat washes up with a dead man and a crying baby aboard.

Disciplined and morally upright Tom wants to report the event but eventually gives into Isabel’s pleas, and they pass the baby off as their own. The unexpected discovery of the birth mother (Rachel Weisz) disrupts their lives and their consciences.

Questions arise: To whom does the child belong? What happens when a woman is forced to choose between loyalty to spouse or child? Can a sin of omission be corrected or forgiven?

Bring lots of tissue and prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster.


Top 10 Old Movies That Hold Up Today

I’m thrilled to welcome Canadian mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk to the Power of 10 series. Today, Judy shares her favorite movies and her new release, Skeletons in the Attic.

Here’s Judy!

judypenzsheluk2

I love movies, but the reality is that a lot of movies I once loved simply don’t hold up today. But this series is about the Power of 10, and so, without further ado, I’m going to list, in order of release date, 10 movies that pass the test of time.

1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Featuring a young Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch and Sundance, the two leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Butch is all ideas, Sundance is all action and skill. The west is becoming civilized and when Butch and Sundance rob a train once too often, a special posse begins trailing them no matter where they run. Oh…and Newman and Redford were smoking hot…

1973: The Way We Were. The story of Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and author Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) during the late 1930s to the late 1950s. A heartbreakingly beautiful love story that still makes me cry.

the Sting (2)1973: The Sting. Newman and Redford are back (and still hot)! When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced (Newman) and one young (Redford) try to get even by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. I can remember seeing this at the show on Christmas Day (release date) and the audience stood up and clapped at the end.

1975: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble and is sentenced by the court. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. He rebels against an oppressive nurse (Louise Fletcher) and rallies up the scared patients (including a very young Danny DeVito). If you haven’t seen this, you must.

1976: A Star is Born. Talented rock star John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson) has seen his career begin to decline. Then he meets the innocent, pure and very talented singer Esther Hoffman. He shows Esther the way to stardom while forsaking his own career. As they fall in love, her success only makes his decline even more apparent. The fact that Kristofferson is drop dead gorgeous doesn’t hurt. [In fact, I patterned Levon Larroquette, a major character in The Hanged Man’s Noose, after Kris].

1987: Overboard. A cruel but beautiful heiress (Goldie Hawn) screws over a hired carpenter (Kurt Russell), who later is the first one to find her when she gets amnesia. Looking for a little revenge he convinces her that she’s his wife. One of the best endings ever. Love the macaroni necklace.

1989: When Harry Met Sally. Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. The best New Year’s Eve movie EVER.

1990: Pretty Woman. Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), a beautiful prostitute … only to fall in love. Love the shopping scene on Rodeo Drive.

1996: Primal Fear. An altar boy (Edward Norton) is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep. Richard Gere stars as the lawyer defending him. Norton was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (and should have won).

1996: The First Wives Club. Reunited by the death of a college friend (Stockard Channing), three divorced women (Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler) seek revenge on the husbands who left them for younger women. My go-to movie when I’m feeling down. It always makes me laugh out loud.

What each of these movies has in common are characters we want to believe in, and a story that allows us to suspend disbelief for the time we invest in it.

That’s my goal, as an author, whether I’m writing a short story or a novel. Here’s a bit about my most recent release, Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery. Hello Hollywood, are you reading this???

Skeletons in the Attic Front Cover (2)

Blurb

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

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Bio

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published August 2016. Sequels are planned for both series in 2017.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.


Movie Review – Florence Foster Jenkins

A long-time fan of Meryl Streep, I looked forward to seeing the award-winning actress take on the role of society matron Florence Foster Jenkins. Having heard Ms. Streep sing beautifully in previous films—Postcards from the Edge, The Deer Hunter, Ricki and the Flash—I wondered if she could actually sound horrible.

I needn’t have worried.

Ms. Streep delivers the shrill trills and toneless howls with great joy and abandon, much to the chagrin of her accompanist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), who had hoped to use his new (well-paid) position to make a name in the New York music scene. While his initial reactions to Florence’s performances are comical, he gradually becomes one of her most loyal supporters.

And thanks to the persistent efforts of Florence’s second husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an ever-growing circle of admirers and supporters flock to the aging chanteuse’s concerts. Grant delivers a stellar performance as the “kept” man who manages to support and shield Florence from mockery while having an affair with his bohemian girlfriend (Rebecca Ferguson). I particularly enjoyed his dance scene.

Director Stephen Frears wisely decided to keep the historical facts to a minimum. Through a series of short dialogues, we learn that young Miss Foster had been a childhood piano prodigy who once performed at the White House. A falling out with her wealthy father led to an elopement with a philandering first husband who gave her syphilis.

In spite of her health challenges and limited musical ability, Florence maintains a cheerful demeanor and displays remarkable self-confidence. An inspiration for all of us!


Film Review – Me Before You

I’ve been closely following the Assisted Death conversation in Canada and the federal government’s struggle to draft a bill that would address the concerns of Canadians facing this dilemma. While I have my own opinions, I like to think that I’m open to other points of view.

I approached Me Before You, the film adaptation of Jo Jo Moyes bestselling novel, with some trepidation, wondering if the tone would be too depressing.

Thankfully, my fears were short-lived.

I immediately fell in love with the main characters: Emilia Clarke, who plays Louisa Clark, the small town caregiver and companion to Will Traynor (Sam Chaflin), a wealthy young banker whose entire world collapses when he becomes paraplegic and wheelchair bound.

Sparks fly as Louisa attempts to cheer the mournful Will with her chattiness, effervescent spirit, and brightly colored clothes and shoes. Eventually, she breaks through his icy reserve and an unexpected relationship blossoms.

The storyline is an engaging one. So many delightful moments ensue as Louisa discovers subtitled films, pesto (green gravy), and Mozart. In turn, Will enjoys his foray into Louisa’s life when he visits and meets her family on the occasion of her birthday. The distribution of gifts is hilarious.

A kiss under a tropical thunderstorm, dance floor adventures, and dreams of Paris can only hint at a fairy tale ending…

Bring lots of tissues!!


Jo’s Top 10 Romantic Comedies

I’m thrilled to welcome author Jo Richardson to the Power of 10 series. Today, Jo shares her favorite romantic comedies.

Here’s Jo!

I tease my husband from time to time (ahem) – because I really dig suspense and horror and he loooooooooves romantic comedies. But the truth is, I love them too. And the older I get, there are different things I love about them. I’ve adored so many over the years and dwindling this down to just 10 is difficult but in the end, I am giving you, my 40’s faves:

jo1Something’s Gotta Give
A swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.
Why it’s so great:
Jack Nicholson is brilliant at this role of a man who is used to seducing younger women but finds, surprisingly, that it’s Diane Keaton’s character he cannot live without. It reminded me of when he played “The Astronaut” in Terms of Endearment and that made me love him even more.

jo2When Harry Met Sally
Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.
Why it’s so great:
Because “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible.” – Cinched this story for me, made me laugh through tears and that is golden.


jo3He’s Just Not That Into You
The Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.
Jenny Anniston, Ben Affleck, ….
Why it’s so great:
I enjoy movies like this one, where there are several couples’s stories that I’m getting. It’s crazy and fun and although I loved them all (ew, except for Bradley Coopers character), my favorite was Jennifer Anniston and Ben Afleck – the way those two came full circle did it for me. And when he went shopping and did the dishes for her family – heart squeezes.

jo4Life As We Know It
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1055292
Two single adults become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident.
Why it’s so great:
Josh Duhamel was so flipping hilarious in this movie. I love watching him.



jo5PS I love You (because Gerard Butler)
A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.
Why it’s so great:
You mean, besides Gerard Butler?






jo6It’s Complicated
When attending their son’s college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship…but the complicated fact is they’re divorced and he’s remarried.
Why it’s so great:
The situation comedy and reactions from Steve Martin alone are worth it.



jo7The Proposal
A pushy boss forces her young assistant to marry her in order to keep her Visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada.
Why it’s so great:
Dominate woman VS boy toy employee turned love at first fight? YES PLEASE.



jo8You’ve Got Mail
Two business rivals hate each other at the office but fall in love over the internet.
Why it’s so great:
Why isn’t it great? I cried so hard when Meg Ryan’s character had to give up her book store. I don’t know if I would have handled that any better. But the reveal of who her online chat buddy is, at the end, that is perfection.


thestoryofusThe Story of Us
Ben and Katie Jordan are a married couple who go through hard times in fifteen years of marriage.
Why it’s so great: I remember seeing this back in 1999 when it first came out. I didn’t like it that much back then. It was on cable a few weeks ago and I found myself watching it again with a whole new perspective. I bawled my eyes out at the end (and several places in between). Looking back now, I see that I couldn’t have appreciated this story for what it is, back then. I was still newly married, new to babies, new to everything really. Now, I get it. And I love it so much it’s on this list.

jo9This is 40
Pete and Debbie are both about to turn 40, their kids hate each other, both of their businesses are failing, they’re on the verge of losing their house, and their relationship is threatening to fall apart.
Why it’s so great:
OMG. So many moments where I’m going yup, yup, double yup. This couple totally nailed it with all the stress that comes along with being 40. Including money, parents, kids (and school!), and the ever elusive, alone time. Lots and lots of laugh out loud moments.

jo10Crazy, Stupid, Love
A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.
Why it’s so great:
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this multi level, twists and turns, who’s in love with who now story. By the time you’re at the end and it all comes to a head (no pun intended) you are dying with amusement. Not a bad way to go, if I do say so myself. Plus I love how endearing a story can be, while making me laugh and cry at the same time. WIN.

Bio

jorichardsonA movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

Jo tells contemporary stories with paranormal, mystery, suspense, humor, action, romance, and anything else she can think up.

* * *

In 2012, she wrote Cursed be the Wicked, a character driven, paranormal mystery romance that was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing and released in March of 2014. Jo has also written a couple of short stories as well, and her most recent full length novel, Cookie Cutter, released through Little Bird Publishing in March of 2015, broke into the top 100 contemporary romantic fiction category on Amazon during its first week of publication.

When she’s not writing, Jo can usually be found spending quality time with her family and their furry animals.

Where to find Jo…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Woman in Gold – A Review

A fan of Helen Mirren, I make a point of seeing all her films. She usually exceeds all expectations and such was the case with her superb portrayal of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman intent on seeking justice and reclaiming her heritage. I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Reynolds who delivered a stellar performance as Randy Schoenberg, the inexperienced but determined young lawyer who helps Maria fight a lengthy court battle that takes the unlikely duo from Vienna to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Klimt’s famous painting, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1” is at the heart of Maria’s determination to recover property illegally stolen by the Nazis. Considered the Mona Lisa of Austria, the painting has hung for decades in the National Museum of the Belvedere Palace. It is not surprising that the Austrian establishment presents so much resistance. But Maria has a special connection with her beloved Aunt Adele (figure in the painting) and persuades an initially reluctant Randy to take on her case. As the legal battle drags on, both characters experience financial and emotional strain. But Randy bounces back and persuades Maria to keep fighting.

Set in Austria and the United States, the film also includes flashbacks to World War II. Tatiana Maslany skillfully portrays young Maria during this turbulent period. Good supporting performances were also delivered by Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Elizabeth McGovern, and Jonathon Pryce.

Several days have passed and I’m still thinking about this film. Definitely worth seeing.